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Features | What I Learnt From Reading All 13 Gossip Girl Books

Last year I read and reviewed all 13 books in Cecily Von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl series for my blog. It was not exactly what I hoped it would be. It turns out the books are nothing like the TV show, which I love so much. I nearly gave up a few times but I did make it to the end! And now I'm here to tell you a few things that I learnt about reading, writing, and, yes, even life itself, from Gossip Girl of all things.

1. The same two girls fighting over the same guy gets old fast.
This is probably a good lesson for both writing and for life. Serena and Blair swap Nate around between them throughout all 13 books as though he is a pair of shoes they've both borrowed so often that neither of them can remember who they originally belonged to. And not even a nice pair of shoes. A pair of shoes that spends all of its time smoking weed in the park. I've muddled up the analogy but you get the idea. Sometimes love triangles are interesting and heart-breaking, sometimes they are so boring you start to hate everyone involved.

2. A good writer can turn even the most two-dimensional character into someone complex and interesting.
The Chuck Bass of Cecily Von Ziegesar's books is not the Chuck Bass of the TV show. The Chuck Bass of the TV show is complicated and multi-faceted. The Chuck Bass of the books is a bizarre parade of flat stereotypes that do very little but insult. Until the last book. He's actually pretty great in the last book. But that comes out of nowhere! I take my hat off to the writers of the TV show because Chuck is just one example of a character being completely overhauled into something way more interesting for the screen. Nate and Dan are also excellent examples. To be honest all of the boys are just terrible in the books.

3. It's okay to read books that aren't necessarily works of great literature.
There is a lot of stigma around reading 'bad' books, especially among readers of YA. It almost seems sometimes that adults who read YA spend a lot of their time justifying that their books of choice are 'more than' YA. That they are nuanced and deep and really just as literary as any other book, as though a book that isn't any of those things is not worth anyone's time. I disagree. The Gossip Girl books are not works of great literary genius, they do not really hold any deep and important life lessons. They're just fun. Even though they're shallow and full of eye-rolling stereotypes and, yes, not fantastically written, they're fun. Sometimes that's enough.

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